I remembered feeling so hot, like I was on fire. But that's it. Just lots of fire is all I remember, and being terrified of it. They were like huge walls of licking and screaming hands, grasping at the night sky. All I remember is being scared and stumbling back, then darkness. Honestly, I thought I was dead…
Then I woke up, feeling cold, like someone left a window open. I heard faint beeping, like those heart monitors at a hospital. By the way I recognized it, I guess I went to a hospital before… I couldn't remember.
My eyes opened slowly and I was staring up at a white ceiling, billowing purple curtains because apparently a window was open. I shifted my eyes to look out and saw snow falling. I blinked in surprise, then looked back up at the ceiling before slowly sitting up. I wasn't sore or anything. I looked down to see myself in a purplish shirt to my elbows and black pants, the clothing was loose and not my idea of hospital scrubs. Was I in a special hospital? I looked around and saw that I was hooked to a heart monitor. I leaned over to look and found myself looking down at a silver tray, catching my reflection. I stared.
I had caramel hair, or maybe peanut brittle, cut just under my ears all choppy. My bangs were side swept across my face. My eyes looked like the sky did right now, a grayish blue sort of color, though, more blue than gray. I also seemed to have a spatter of light freckles over my nose and a band-aid on my cheek. I reached up to touch my face, but stopped when I saw the reflection of my hands. I looked down at them to see rolls of gauze wrapping around my palms and index fingers, some around the base of my thumbs.
I sat back on the bed, staring at my hands for a while before I caught side of the information hanging off the side of my bed. I rolled over and picked it up, scanning it over.
Apparently my name was Aidan Hellsium and I went to an academy called Hellsium's Academy. It said I was adopted by the headmaster. So wait, this was the academy infirmary? How did I end up here? All it said was that I arrived with burn wounds on my hands and a cut on my cheek. I was sixteen-years-old and I even had my schedule on the paper, my birthday was February 13th. How did I not know any of this?
I was so confused. I let the paper drop again and slowly pulled the sheets back, removing the heart monitor as I slid out of the bed and onto the floor. I was shocked by the cold tiles. I heard voices from down the aisle, like maybe two guys were arguing or something. To my left, I could see a doctor and a male nurse talking to some cop looking guy. He looked kind of creepy, so I didn't want to go over there and ask why I was here. I decided to move the opposite direction and took a step around the next curtain. I jumped when I saw a boy lying on the hospital bed.
Or at least, that's what I think he was.
He was almost invisible!
The heart monitor was beeping very slowly, abnormally so, but his chest wasn't rising or falling. He looked small and fragile, pasty and almost like grayscale on the computer or something. He definitely had to be dead. He even had an odd smell to him. I took a step away, staring in surprise before I heard a voice shout.
"Oi! Boy, you're not supposed to be up and about!" The cop snapped gruffly, pushing past the doctor and almost knocking the nurse over. I looked up and stared at him as he approached me, standing over me. For some reason, I wasn't scared of him, though. He was tall and scary looking with his hat tilted to the side and he kind of hunched a little bit.
"What am I doing here?" I asked. The cop frowned, studying me for a moment before a smirk seemed to spread across his lips under his mustache. His tongue flicked across his lips like a snake before he glanced over his shoulder.
"Doc, you were right about the kid," He turned back to me, his eyes almost glinting, "I'm Officer Guzman, the head of security here at Hellsium's Academy… You must be pretty confused, hm? Waking up in a strange place? You sure hit your head rather hard."
"My head?" I asked. Confusion was so annoying sometimes. It was almost dizzying, but I was too interested in what was going on around me. Officer Guzman smiled carefully as he put a hand on his hip.
"Your head, remember? The fire in the kitchen?"
"I don't… I have no idea what you're talking about."
"A fire blew up the kitchen and you fell back and hit your head on the counter. It's any wonder you don't have a wound, being human and all." Officer Guzman pointed out. I just stared at him.
"Human? We're all human?" I asked. Officer Guzman just smirked and turned to face the doctor.
"Have him checked out to make sure he wasn't hurt anywhere else, Doc. I gotta scram, there's a job outside the academy walls… Good luck." He said to me, then turned and headed out the door. The nurse glared after him while the doctor sighed, turning and walking toward me with a calm smile, his blonde hair slicked back. The nurse beside him, wearing purple scrubs, stuck his nose in the air, pinching it. It made me wonder if he meant me. Did I stink?
When was the last time I took a shower?
How long was I adopted by the headmaster of this academy?
"All right, Aidan," The doctor smiled, stopping in front of me, "I suppose I should check you up, despite you looking absolutely fine to me. My name is Dr. Jonathan Carmichael. This is my nurse-"
"Assistant." The guy sniffed. Dr. Carmichael went on.
"Connor Spangler. We're just going to check up on those wounds and how well your reflexes and basic human needs are. So we'll just come back over here and sit down." He put a hand on my shoulder and led me back to my bed. As we walked, I glanced back at the pasty, disappearing boy in the other bed.
"Is he dead?" I asked, looking up at Dr. Carmichael, who blinked, then glanced at Connor, who sighed and walked over, closing the curtains to the boys bed before following us again. Dr. Carmichael sat me down on my hospital bed, setting his clipboard down and smiling at me.
"Some creatures are exposed to diseases that others aren't. He's one of the unfortunate ones, but he'll go somewhere else that's better than here. You should just focus on you at the moment. Now let me see those hands of yours." He held his hand out and took mine, slowly undoing the gauze. As it fell away, my eyes widened.
"Wow." I managed. The skin was marred with jagged burns, red and blistery. It didn't hurt, though. It just looked like it should. Dr. Carmichael smiled weakly, then looked down and examined my hands while Connor stood nearby, tilting his head from side to side thoughtlessly like he was bored. Dr. Carmichael replaced my bandages and did the same with the band-aid on my cheek before he did what any old doctor would do. Hit my knee for reflexes, checked my nose, mouth, ears, and eyes. He then told Connor to fetch me a uniform and a school bag with textbooks, taking out a copy of my schedule.
"Maybe I can get Connor to escort you to class, hm? Do you think you'll be okay on your own or would you like me to send you to your dormitory? Though, that might count as an absence and you can't get very many while here." He sighed, standing up and putting his stethoscope around his neck again.
"It's all right, I can manage class." I answered, though, I wasn't very sure of that. I was uneasy because I still couldn't remember a thing of what happened before I woke up. Heck, I couldn't even remember who I was. I only knew the basics…
Connor came back with my things and set them on the bed. They left, closing the curtains so I could change out of the hospital scrubs and into the uniform, which was kind of snug and not very attractive. More bland than anything. Just a simple white button up shirt with a black blazer and matching pants, the tie a deep dark purple to match the belt around the waist.
I stuffed the textbooks labeled Anatomy, Algebra 12B, and Physics A into the black messenger bag before I slung it over my shoulder with ease, letting it bounce on my hip for a second before I pulled the curtain away. I paused, seeing a boy talking to Dr. Carmichael and he sounded kind of annoyed, but he looked calm…
And kind of… Well, honestly, this guy looked kind of attractive.
Did that mean I was gay? No, because thinking about girls was nice too.
I have no idea.
But this guy was attractive.
His hair was like milk chocolate and perfectly straight, brushed off to the side and hung down a bit longer down the nape of his neck in the back and gradually got shorter nearing his green eyes, green like wet moss in a deep forest. He looked flawless, not a zit in sight. What also made it more interesting was that around his neck, a black and silver buckled choker was fastened snugly. He wore the same uniform I did, only it was obviously bigger because he was taller. He looked almost eighteen or something.
Just then, Dr. Carmichael looked over at me, then back at the guy, who was frowning at him and giving him a curious look before the doctor got a glittery look in his eye and gestured to me.
"Aidan, perfect timing! Please come here." He called to me. I wanted to grimace, but I kept my face rather straight and nodded, walking over and keeping my eyes on the floor away from this guy, who I could tell was walking me the moment I stepped out from behind that curtain. Dr. Carmichael put an arm out and rested a hand on my back, pushing me forward a little before placing both his hands on my shoulders.
"Aidan, this is Damon Harper. He's a fellow classmate of yours and happens to share the class that you have right now as well as a dorm room. Why don't you two go to class together?" He asked, looking at Damon, who's green eyes looked like daggers for a second before he looked at me. I looked back at him uneasily. He looked kind of annoyed, but at the same time, there was something he seemed to want to say before he nodded. Dr. Carmichael smiled in relief, patting my shoulder.
"Thank you very much, Damon. Have a good first day, Aidan. If you need help, I'm sure Damon wouldn't mind." He winked at Damon, then gave me a push as Damon turned and headed out the door. I followed him out the doors, listening to them close behind us before we headed down a long hallway. It was designed weird too. Tall hallways with elaborate swirls on the stone walls with floors made of marble that seemed to almost click under our uniform shoes. I was tempted to say something because it was awkward, just walking in silence with only the sound of our shoes clicking, but I didn't know what to say.
It'd be stupid to ask about the schedule since I had it right in my hand. Maybe pretend to fiddle with it?
So I just lifted the crumpled bit of paper up, glancing out the corner of my eye at him to see him staring at the hall up ahead before looking down at my schedule.
"You're cute." I jerked my head up and stopped walking. Damon stopped too, his hands in his pockets as he stared at me flatly. I stared back at him for a while in silence before speaking.
"Huh?" I asked, confused. Damon shrugged, reaching up and tracing a finger over his choker, but the more I looked at it, the more it looked like a collar.
"I said you were cute, or can't you hear?"
"Well, yea, but… That was random and uncalled for."
"How was that uncalled for?"
"Uhm… I don't know. It just was." I mumbled. Damon looked at me curiously, his eyebrows tilting downward in a concentrated frown before his face softened and he smiled faintly.
"All right. I'll make sure to say it at a more appropriate time."
"I don't think any time is appropriate."
"I can think of several and they involve you being in some suggestive positions."
"You're a pervert!" I accused harshly, taking a step away from him. Damon raised an eyebrow, his lips puckering a little in distaste at the accusation. Which was silly because it was most definitely true. He didn't even know me!
"Like I haven't heard that before-"
"I'll bet." I cut in, making his eyes dart to lock on mine.
"-How old are you anyway? Ten? Twelve?"
"Sixteen! At least… That's what my information card said."
"I prefer petite." I muttered dryly, folding my arms over my chest and clenching my schedule tightly in my fist. Damon cracked another smile. He was really annoying and it didn't help that he was attractive. An attractive and annoying pervert. What a bad mix. He turned and continued down the hallway. I waited a second, then ran to catch up with him. We walked in some more silence, heading down a staircase and down another hallway, which felt like a hassle because there were so many. It was like a labyrinth rather than an academy.
I glanced at Damon's choker again curiously and decided, the best way to learn things was to ask questions, even if I sort of didn't want to know the answer.
"What's that choker for?" I asked. Damon glanced at me out the corner of his eye and seemed to touch the choker without thinking before he dropped his hand into a fist at his side, his eyes narrowing slightly. A smirk came across his face, but he still looked irritated.
"It's a sealing collar."
"A sealing collar?"
"To keep my powers at bay or else you'd be dead right now."
"Powers? What're you talking about?"
"I'm a reaper."
"A reaper? Like the Grim Reaper?"
"That's what most humans call us."
"Are there others here like you?" I asked, intrigued. Damon glanced at me, looking mildly surprised. Was I supposed to freak out and point at him or something? I just woke up, so why not believe what people told me? Unless it sounded too weird… For some reason, though, hearing that this guy was a 'reaper' wasn't shocking me like it probably should.
"Yea," Damon said at last, looking ahead again, "Not just reapers go to this school either. Vampyres, water demons, shape shifters, fairies, werewolves, even ravens."
"Really? All those things are real?"
"If you're a reaper, what can you do? Why would you have to wear a collar? Are you that dangerous?" I asked. The corner of Damon's mouth twitched, like he was trying not to lose his smile to an annoyed look. Probably aggravated by all my questions, but now I was really interested and I had no idea why. I just wanted to know more.
"Well?" I prompted. Damon tilted his head a little, reaching up to rub the back of his neck before sighing.
"Nothing much, not as much as the other creatures. We suck souls and devour them, mostly tainted ones. We can possess others into doing our will and shape shift into ravens, but that last one takes up a shit load of energy and it hurts, so I'm not demonstrating. The collar keeps me from stealing souls, it'll choke me. Yes, I'm dangerous. Does that scare you?" He stopped and stood in front of me now, staring down at me. I stared up at him and I felt a little icy chill go up my spine, staring up at him.
His green eyes seemed to glow brighter, an almost white color and he seemed more and more flawless by the second, more attractive. It was making my legs feel like jello, but I stayed standing. He reached a hand up and his fingertips brushed my lower lip. For a second, I could've sworn he was going to lean in and kiss me, but suddenly he winced and made a choking sound and reeled back, grasping his hand around his throat over the choker. I stared, fascinated as the choker seemed to magically grow tighter and tighter around his throat.
"I'm sorry." I said at last. Damon just shook his head, coughing a little before he turned his back to me, muttering something that sounded like 'first time in a while…' under his breath, but I couldn't be sure. He started walking again and I followed him.
"I'm not scared of you." I told him. Damon smirked a little, his hand slipping away from his throat to reveal the choker slowly resizing back to its normal size.
"Then you're stupid."
"I'm not stupid either."
"If you needed an information card for your age-"
"It's because I'm lost," I replied sternly, grabbing him and pulling him to a stop so I could look at him head on; all this making him cock a brow in amusement, "I woke up in that infirmary place and I don't know what's going on. I don't know who I am or why I'm here. The card just said that my name was Aidan Hellsium and that the headmaster of this place adopted me and that I was in a fire and they sent me to the infirmary." Damon frowned.
"The headmaster adopted you? Headmaster Walker?"
"That's suspicious. No, more like creepy… So that means you're the Headmaster's kid, which means people are going to hate you." Damon answered calmly, as if the idea didn't bother him at all. Personally it didn't bother me either, but if this place was full of… Creatures, would that mean they'd get physical? I could already tell without needing any kind of examination that I was probably weak, physically.
"You don't hate me, do you?" I asked. Damon frowned slowly, folding his arms over his chest.
"All depends on how you act… If you don't piss me off, we'll be fine."
"What do I need to avoid?"
"And that. Stop asking so many damn questions and don't say 'huh', it makes you sound stupid and creatures take advantage of stupid humans. I've seen it happen countless times and I've done it myself."
"All right…" I murmured, averting my eyes. Damon turned and we continued walking for a while in silence before Damon seemed to continue his list of pet peeves.
"Don't spit your toothpaste all over the sink, it's gross. Don't miss the toilet, that's just nasty. Make your bed in the morning. Do what I say. Don't excessively swear. Don't get detention to avoid me. Don't interrupt-"
"You sound like you're instructing your pet." I cut in sharply. Damon's lips twitched in annoyance since he just got done telling me not to interrupt, but I did it anyway. I feel like rules weren't too much to me, just there to make sure I made friends… Did I need friends?
"You're my roommate," Damon replied, "Our other roommates follow these rules too, well, most of the time."
"Our other roommates?"
"Toby Storm and Pierce Robbins. Our old roommate was Cy Thompson."
"What happened to him?"
"It's all right. I don't care. Don't apologize, by the way, especially when you don't need to."
"Okay? Uh, let's make this easier. Just tell me what to do that'll keep you content then, does that work? It sounds like a shorter list." I muttered. Damon surprised me by laughing and it made my face grow a bit warm, but it faded as he paused just outside a classroom. He turned to face me, a corner of his lips twisting up into what looked like a wicked smirk as he shoved both his hands into his pockets.
"Let me fuck you."